Friday, August 31, 2007

The New Look

I was reading a guy's blog today about bike mount kits for the GPS watch I have, when I noticed he has a really cool looking setup. What I liked most was the picture at the top, so I stole his idea and added one to mine.

Panoramic Mountain View

The picture at the top of the blog is one that I took my own very own self. It's actually a panoramic shot consisting of about 8 pictures that I took while in Japan. It's the first panoramic picture I've ever taken that came out halfway decent. In fact, at full size there's only one seam that I can see so I'm pretty happy with it.

Other than that this post is primarily to point that out.

Bonus Material

Since my parents are coming to visit tomorrow, I'm going to forgo any last minute cleaning and go for a last minute bike ride. I've made a number of assumptions about when they're going to get here, and I think I have time if I leave early enough.

I sent out the invite to my normal biking/running crew, but it's looking like I might be peddling alone. It's a route I've done (alone) before, so I'm not really concerned. In fact, if anyone else is going to show up it might be more of a hassle than just going by myself. Hmm, sounding like a hermit?

Okay, I have other things to write about, but I'll have to get to those another time. Right now I have to get to bed so I can be out on the road by 8:00 tomorrow morning. Later, players.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My Endieseling is Coming Along Nicely

"What did you do yesterday, Old Coot?" I kicked ass and took names.

How's My Dust Taste?

Last night was the final Live on the Lake at Burbank Park, and the final running of the Live on the Lake Race Series (AKA Dave's Races). For me, it was opening night because I haven't been able to make it to any of them. As expected I showed up too close to the start for a proper warm up, and since I haven't been doing much running this summer I figured that would handicap me. I did have to run a little to get there on time, and I figured that was good for something.

As I scanned the field, I made note of the racer demographics. There was me (M20-29), a few dozen high school girls (F14-19), and a dozen other people who were not in my age group (M30-39, M40-49, M50-59, F30-39, F50-59, you get the point). My goal, besides not tearing a hamstring, was to not get beat by a little girl. You may say "Old Coot, what little girl would beat you?" to which I say "A whole mess of them." One in particular kicked my ass at the 4th of July race, but she's a superstar around these parts so I didn't let it get to me.

After we lined up and the race director (Dave) said a few words thanking everyone for showing up, thanking the sponsors and the volunteers, we were off. The fast guy (who shall be called The Fast Guy for the purpose of this post) immediately pulled out ahead, with me in 2nd place. Like an idiot, I looked at him and thought "The Fast Guy is going to beat you, but he's not pulling away too quickly. If you can limit how fast he pulls away you might be able to maintain your spot in 2nd place. Let him pace you and you'll do great."

Well, half a mile into it I hit the main road and the hot sun. Shortly after that, I dropped to 3rd place. After the first mile marker, another guy pulled up behind me, shot some shit, exchanged pleasantries, and left me in his dust. I decided to keep him in my sights while keeping the group behind me in their place, behind me.

The whole time I'm watching my heart rate monitor and thinking "There's no way I'll keep up this pace. My heart rate is up in the 95% of Max range, I'll never make it." Thank God the devil on my shoulder told me to "Shut up, quit whining and run faster. It's only 3.7 miles, why are you such a baby?" I just kept pushing, keeping my heart rate high with no signs of slowing.

Wouldn't you know that with half a mile to go I heard the footsteps of 5th place closing in on me (ironically, Dave). He passed me with a few hundred yards to go, much to my chagrin. As soon as the finish line appeared on the horizon I decided there was no way I was letting this guy beat me in the last minute and I put the pedal to the metal.

The people at the finish line were yelling "Go Dave, you got him" , alternating with "Yeah 'Old Coot' (they actually used my real name), don't let him beat you". From the depths of my soul I pulled out enough energy to pass him and reclaim 4th place. Post race analysis showed that we hit over 16 mph in that last sprint!

Then I almost threw up.

Once the results were posted I saw that I finished in 25:34, 34 seconds behind my personal record but about 26 seconds better than my goal. Average pace: 6:55/mile. After a summer of hamstring trouble, no speed work, limited running and only one race I'm almost where I was this time last year.

Ninja Status - check!

Oops, I Scuffed the Floor

After the race, I hung out at Live on the Lake to eat pizza and hear Sirsy play. I think they're a perennial favorite, and they put on a really good show. Afterwards I headed home full of Dominos pizza and water and set up the bike on the rollers to crank out a few miles, under the guise of working on my balance.

It was immediately evident that my balance and technique had improved from my initial voyage on the rollers. I was able to maintain a fairly straight "line", didn't have to lean on the doorway, and was pretty aware of my position within the width of the rollers. That's when the sweat started dripping.

I had a box fan blowing on me to help keep me cool, but eventually I started getting sweaty and as the first drops burned my eyes I decided I was going to have to let go for a second to wipe my brow. I slowly moved my hand from the handlebars to my forehead, wiped the left side and while reaching for the right eyebrow the bike started to shift around a little. I gave it a quick wipe and started reaching for the handlebars. The sudden movement upset my delicate equilibrium and sent me swerving. As I oscillated out of control my left elbow slammed into the doorway en-numbening my left hand, and I quickly sped off the other side of the rollers.

As expected, the tires spun out on the floor and I did not accelerate across the hallway. I waited for the feeling to come back to my hand, wiped my forehead real good, got back on and continued riding. Afterwards, I noticed a nice scuff on the floor from the tire. I was going to clean it up, but I'll leave it there as a war wound for now.

In case you were wondering, my elbow has a mark on it, but the bruising is minimal. I'll live.

Autumn Approaches

As the nights get longer and the days get shorter, a young man's thoughts turn to "How much longer can we run trails on Thursday Night?" I love the trail we take, and even though it's the same route week after week I never tire of it. When we have to move back onto the roads it's like summer camp ending. It's also like giving up and letting fall beat you. I know that no amount of willpower will keep the seasons from changing, but it still feels like quitting.

Of course, it also means we get to run the horrible, horrible route around Pontoosuc Lake for the winter. It's full of hills, cold lake wind, snow, traffic and suffering - but it hurts so good.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

I'll Be Damned

Yesterday it seemed I had more than one occasion that called for the old expression "I'll be damned". Since I know you're dying to hear about them, let me get right to it.

They Actually Gave Me My Money

Back in the beginning of December I made the switch from Sprint PCS to Verizon Wireless for a number of reasons. I didn't like the smug look of the Sprint commercials, my phone was about to die, nobody I know uses Sprint anymore, and the phones Sprint had to offer sucked.

A quick poll of the people I call (nobody) told me that I should be moving my business over to Verizon Wireless. Their plans are about the same as those I found with Sprint, but we get almost 20% discount through work. I test drove some phones at the local Sprint store (conveniently located next to Starbucks) and decided on my new phone. The next step was to find someone willing to sell me the phone for the low, low price of free. If I'm gonna shell out $600-700 a year to not use the phone, I don't want to pay for the hardware too.

Enter WireFly, an online cell store who set me up with a brand spanking new phone, a plan, and rebates equalling the price of the brand spanking new phone. The catch of course, is that most rebates are a scam. These were hardly an exception. I had to employ the supercomputers at MIT and a couple of Poindexters to determine how to fill out the two rebates (which were different), what to send where, when to send it, etc. I waited the appropriate number of days, mailed in my rebates and crossed my fingers.

Folks, WireFly has a nice website where you can check the status of your rebates. They don't give you details down to the gnat's ass, but it's reassuring to know where you are in the approval/rejection process.

Well, yesterday I opened my mailbox to find rebate check #1, made out in my name for the whopping amount of (Exactly) $30. YESSS! I like how they clarified that I should be given exactly $30.00, as if banks typically use the number you write as an approximation and just kind of ballpark it for you.

Never you mind that they've been holding my money for the last 268 days without interest, and never you mind the mental anguish of the rebate process and postage needed to mail in all of the required paperwork; I consider this a victory in the world of rebates. Within the next month I should have my second check in hand, made out for (Exactly) $70.00.

I'll be damned.

Them Are Big Boxes

As I walked from the mailbox to the door, I noticed two large boxes on my porch. I'm expecting some tires for my bike, but I don't think they've shipped and they'll be coming in something the size of a shoe box. The boxes on my porch were humongous. As it turns out they were not the tires at all, but rather two outdoor recliners. I knew right away that my dear mother had sent them, so I set myself up in the yard with a cool drink and called her to say thanks. She said she bought two because she has two children, but then decided that she loved me the most so I got them both. Sorry Ab, I'm the favorite.

She told me she wanted to get me these chairs, but I figured it was a passing thought and would never happen. I'll be damned.

Who'da Thunk It?

For a little while now I've been experiencing some less-than-comforting effects of long bike rides. Nope I'm not talking about numb 'bits', as the British put it. I asked around a bit and came to the conclusion that I might be slightly anemic. The most logical suggestion I receieved was to start eating red meat again. When I stopped eating red meat it was for no reason other than I just felt like it, so picking it back up seemed like a fairly viable option.

Last week after my Thursday Night Run, I had a big ass hamburger with fries at The Heritage in Lenox, MA. The food there is pretty good, but service can be slow because they always seem to have one waiter/waitress for the whole place. Nevertheless, the burger was awesome!

Last night I took the night off from running/biking/yakking to mow the lawn. Some time around sunset I finished, put everything away and fired up the grill to cook myself a steak. I tend to overcook steaks, so I bought a thick steak, cranked the grill up, preheated the hell out of it and tried to just sear the meat on either side. This didn't work exactly as planned, but when I sat down to eat I was in heaven.

Red meat is delicious, I'll be damned.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Comic Nerds Be Gone

Last week or so I mentioned that I've been getting a lot of hits on this here blog due to my use of an Invisible Woman picture. Apparently that was just the tip of the iceberg.

I May Have to Add Ads

I checked with my Sitemeter counter and depending on the day I'm getting 30-40% of my referrals from Google Image searches for the stupid picture in this entry. I have been resistant to put ads on my blog because, well, I hate ads. But if I'm going to be getting this much traffic from pizza faced basement dwellers I might as well make a buck off of them. I'm going to look into the Google advertisements to see if it's worth the trouble. Last I checked I think I stood to earn about $0.00 per year.

Ad Update

Nope, doesn't look like Adsense would pay off for me. People claim you need thousands of distinct visitors to your site daily to really make any money, not tens of visitors. I wouldn't be trying to make a living off of it, but for $100 a year it might be worth it. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Found My Calling

There have been a number of times in my life where people told me that I may have missed my calling. The more I dislike working in an office, and the more I like not working in an office, the more I'm starting to believe those people. Here are a few of those stories...

Maybe Engineering School Isn't for You

Picture this... The year was 1996, Wu Tang Clan's Enter the 36 Chambers is blasting in every car, truck and high school party. People finally stopped wearing Cross Colors gear, and yours truly is a bright, wild-haired high school senior askeered of going off to college when he finally found people who understand him (read, he doesn't go to school in the projects anymore). It's the night of the Senior Dinner, where open mic draws student after student to the front, and empties tear ducts in a late night smörgåsbord of shared memories.

Well, that's how it's supposed to go. Aside from one or two people taking advantage of unscripted access to a microphone, the party is dying. My spider sense started tingling when it looked like they were going to wrap things up. "Fuck that shit!" my inner guidance counselor hollered, and I approached the mic with no story to tell whatsoever. Instead of standing there hemming and hawing, I did what any desperate kid could do; I filibustered. The way I saw it, if I kept talking long enough someone would remember something they wanted to tell.

I made up a story that must have taken 20 minutes to tell. I had students, teachers, parents, school officials in tears. Apparently it was wicked funny. One parent asked his son (one of my classmates) if I was in the special class. "Nope, he's going to school for engineering. He's actually pretty smart." he advised his dad. "Oh, that's too bad" his dad responded.

Then the next day I was making good on my debts to the school library (damn microfiche machine costing $0.15 per copy) when the librarian asked if I was sure I should be getting into engineering. I didn't quite understand and she suggested maybe I get into a field that utilizes the other side of my brain. I thanked her for what I took for a compliment (I'm sure it was) but that mess doesn't pay the bills and like any kid entering engineering school I thought an engineering degree would help me get my cake up.

Kids, listen up. Engineering doesn't make you wealthy!

I Don't Ride, but I Look Forward to Your Ride Reports

Friends, I have this crew that I play with most days of the week. It all started as running, then they talked me into all sorts of activities. If you thought peer pressure was a motherfucker, you should see what 40-something running moms can do. No, not that. A good looking single guy like me can be convinced to do almost anything with a few well delivered compliments. But, that's neither here nor there.

After our rides/runs I like to provide everyone with a quick write up of whatever we did. Most people think "Yeah, we ran around on the trails. It was fun." but if you take the little things and make them sound good, you can turn a garden variety stroll through the woods sound like something J.R. Tolkien dreamt up. So that's my contribution to the world, and one of the guys I run with loves to mention that I may have missed my calling. "I'm sure you're a good engineer, but those write-ups are awesome. I don't even go on the rides with you guys but you make them sound great. Do you do any other writing?" Of course, I have to beat around that bush because that world doesn't know about my blog world. "Yeah, I write little things here and there" I told him.

"Is it raining out?" I say, quickly changing the subject.

Moral of the Story

The moral of this lengthy monologue is that I think I may have missed my calling. What's unfortunate is that I've grown accustomed to the lifestyle engineering has afforded me, and I can't just up and leave for a life of running and biking, and evenings of write ups. With this in mind, I've decided that I need either sponsorship or a sugar mama. If there are any hot, wealthy 20-something chicks out there who are looking for an industrious guy to keep at home, I am your man.

As a kept man I promise to work here and there in jobs requiring as little responsibility as possible. Jobs where I can take off when the weather's nice to play; where bullshitting with people is in the job description. Hell, I'll even pick up my own socks off the floor now and then. For now, I'll offer my kept man services even if you're only looking to support some jobless loser to spite your ex-boyfriend/parents/priest.

As far as jobless losers go, I can be a winner. There lies my calling.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

C.R.E.A.M. Get the Money

In case you haven't heard, we're going to be getting a new set of C-Notes up in this piece. The best part is that the paper used for printing our American dolla dolla bills, y'all is made right here in Western MA. We know how to stack that paypa', ya hurrrd.

Lyrics You'll Be Hearing

As you may have noticed, rappers like talking about money. They like to take money right from their hoes and "make it rain" all over strippers. Just giving money back to the people, I say. What's best, is when they came out with the last round of $100 bills, you heard rappers distinguishing between Small- and Big-Faced Hundreds.

Before rappers start coining new phrases, I thought I'd get mine out there and copyright that shit. So here are some lyrics they'll be using, while simultaneously infringing on my copyrights...

I was droppin' solid classics before hundreds was holographic©
My tongue spit hot classics before hundreds was holographic©
My lungs kicked hot classics before hundreds was holographic©
Mary had that little lamb, whose fur was white as snow.
and I was stackin holograms, while you's dividin' blow.©

Don't front! You know those are the hottest lyrics you haven't even heard yet. If Kanye can rhyme "More chips than Pentium" with "Strippas named Cinnamon" and "Whatever new trend it is" then I can use "Mary had a little lamb" as one of my 16 bars.

My Bike Game is Tight

I know you guys want to stay as updated on my Josh training as possible, so I'll let you in on my progress. Yesterday I went out for a cruise of the Josh course with a few of my homies. Not only did I wipe the course with those guys but I went home and pumped out another 20 minutes on the trainer, honing my bike handling skills and sweating out another quart of Coot Juice&trade .

Tonight, being a warm night, I'll be out on the lake working on my kayak game and further enchiseling1 my already chiseled obliques. Okay, well maybe they aren't chiseled but you can imagine if they were. I may even work a few miles of running into the mix, keeping my run game tight as well.

God I can't wait for this race to be over.

Bottled at the Source: Pittsfield, MA

I assume it's primarily in the Northeast that we have Aquafina Water that was bottled in Latham, NY (municipal water supply), but the word on the street is that a bottling company just bought property in Pittsfield possibly for a similar use. All of you people 'round these parts who buy bottled water because the city water is "so polluted with PCBs" (which it isn't) may soon find yourselves drinking bottled water from the same supply as your tap. Read your labels more closely, folks.

And if you think bottled water is so much better, I'll cut you a deal on Coot Sweat&trade, "Fine Water, Tapped from the Berkshire Mountains©". A deal at only $2.25 for a 24 oz bottle.

1I'd like to give credit to Miss Maven for the term "enchiseling", as I got the prefix "en" from her (months and months ago). You can use it in front of most verbs for enhanced effectiveness. I didn't want to encroach on her copyrights.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Whew, Friday Wrapup

Good afternoon all, I have the day off today and I've been running errands and cleaning the kitchen. Pretty soon I need to get after the rest of the house, but I don't want to.

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Last night I got home from my Thursday Night Run and felt inspired to get on the bike for a few minutes. I've had my bike rollers for over a week now and have only used them once. I got everything all set up last night and rode for maybe 10-15 minutes just to work on my balance. Let me tell you, riding a bike without the wind gets you sweaty in a hurry.

This morning I suited up for a proper cycling session, put a fan right in front of me, cranked up some offensive music and got to pedaling. At this point I can pretty much balance on the rollers without having to lean on the doorway. I'm not so confident that I'm willing to move out of the doorway yet, but I managed to get about 35 minutes of riding in before I called it quits. I haven't sweat like that in a longy long time, and I hardly got my heart rate or breathing up. Next time I should really put a towel on the floor.

Once I really get the hang of it, I'm gonna have to set up where I can watch a movie or look out the window or something. Despite what you might think, staring down a hallway is not the most motivating spot for such an activity.

Kickin' New Flavor in Your Ear

I just picked up a new album this afternoon that I didn't even know was coming out. No, it's not Craig Mack's newest hot jam, it's Talib Kweli's new album Eardrum. I'm rocking out to it as I type and I have to give it a preliminary rating of Da Bomb.

For all of you Hip-Hop Haters out there, what you probably really hate is club rap, as you should. It's all the same bullshit about hoes, stackin' that paper, bling, cars, etc. You should know there's also what's called Conscious Rap out there, which is what real hip-hop is about. It's got a message, a unique beat and doesn't get much radio play. Anyway, Eardrum is worth checking out. I don't know why he's gotta look so thuggish on the cover, but maybe it's a marketing ploy.

If you still need convincing, I think he performed on Chappelle's Show.

Gimme a Hand

Well, I filled out the form, cut a check and sent off my application for The Josh Billings RunAground to be held September 16th. I was able to pull the trigger and sign up for the Ironman division, meaning I'll be the sole person on my team.

"What's your team?" you're probably asking. Well, I hemmed, hawed and poured over all the possible team names that would both describe my finely tuned athlete status and sound cool. I was close - real close - to going with The Maestro, from The Beastie Boys lyrics:

How can he be so skinny and live so phat? You know why 'cause I'm the maestro

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed a little presumptuous. Plus, I don't care for the word 'skinny'. Finely tuned athletes like me can't be skinny; the term is ripped and drop dead gorgeous.

Then, out of nowhere it hit me. If Handsome Boy Modeling School Graduate didn't fit, I should go with El Guapo. Anyone who had a pulse in the 1986 must remember the movie Three Amigos. If you remember, the villain in that movie went by the monacher "El Guapo" which translates directly to "The Handsome". That settled it right there.

While Team El Guapo may seem to have everything, it is missing an important ingredient: The Support Crew. In the case of Team El Guapo the support crew will be called The Entourage.

The Entourage has a very important but very easy role in Team El Guapo's success in this event. At the end of the first leg of the race, the bike section, The Entourage will have help El Guapo transition from the bike to the kayak and take the bike the 1/4 to 1/2 mile back to the car. The Entourage will also have to wait at Camp Mah-Kee-Nac for El Guapo to come in on the kayak.

Once landed, The Entourage will paddle the kayak a few hundred yards to the take-out point, carry the kayak to the car, head to the finish line in Tanglewood (maybe another 1/4 mile across a field) and enjoy the festivities. There will be music, food, drink, sexy dames in lycra or at least short shorts and generally good times.

If anyone out there in Readerland is interested in being The Entourage I would appreciate the help. I'm going to be looking around pretty hard for someone to perform this important task, because without help I'm ineligible to race. I'll be out $40 and a season worth of training. I don't want anyone to feel obligated, but this is one of Berkshire County's premiere events. The energy and excitement draws thousands of people out every year to participate, volunteer, support and watch The Josh. If you want to be part of the magic, holler back. There are 500 teams, so don't think you'll be standing at the transition points by yourself. It's a party!

Minus the booze, at least until the afterparty.

Tender Vibular Nuggets for Dom

I wasn't sure what the etiquette was on this, but my e-homegirl Maven did it first so I figured it was alright. I'm can't go into details but Dom, one of my best homies from back in the day (CHS represent!!) has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. It sounds from his description that he's got everything working in his favor, so it's just a matter of doing what the doctors say and he'll have that bullshit whipped.

Dom was an integral player during my formative years, when I learned that being silly is not a break from regular life, it's a way of life! If you find me at least mildly tolerable, Dom is one of the people to credit. To this day he continues to crack me up in person, and over all kinds of electronic media. If everyone could take a moment to send some tender vibes in Dom's direction, I would appreciate it.

Dom, in lieu of a moment of silence I'm gonna wild out to The Pharcyde's Soul Flower Remix. I can't hear that song without getting buck nutty.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Monday, August 20, 2007

With The Speed of Free Delivery

Not much here but a little ranting.

When Free Shipping Backfires

I'm a junkie for buying stuff on the internet. Of course when tempted with the prospect of free shipping I can hardly resist. Lately, I bought a number of items from Amazon which qualified me for free shipping. In the past, I've been tempted to pay anyway so that I wouldn't have to wait, only to cheap out and be pleasantly surprised to find my merchandise on my porch within a few days.

My latest purchase was shipped via USPS on August 13th, and keep in mind that today is August 20th when you read the quote below. For those of you who don't know, I'm about an hour from Springfield, MA.

Your item was processed and left our SPRINGFIELD, MA 01152 facility on August 14, 2007. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later.

So someone somewhere is probably listening to my new CDs before they drop them off with me. Either that or they made the mailman walk to Springfield and back to pick it up and deliver it.

Invisible Woman Fans

If you haven't noticed, I use a little service called SiteMeter to keep track of my visitors. It tells me lots of useless information that I sometimes use to try and figure out which visitor is which. It's basically not enough info to figure anything out.

However, one of the best features is the Referral data. This tells me where a visitor found my site. Often, it's blank (you typed it in or used a bookmark), but recently I've been getting a lot of hits due to an old post where I included a picture of The Invisible Woman. Apparently a lot of people are very interested in her, and have tracked her to my site.

Sorry, if you're here looking for more pics of her, you're going to leave empty handed. Besides I think I hear your mother calling you for dinner, Poindexter.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Clif Bar - Tri Training Commercial

For all of my regular readers out there, you know I don't normally like to link to YouTube (or any other kind) videos, but this one tickled my funny bone.

Train Like you Race

I've never done a "real" triathlon (swim, bike, run), and as a matter of fact until this September I won't have even done any kind of triathlon (bike, paddle, run) but I find the people who do them to be my kind of crazy. From what I understand, the swim portion can be extremely punishing both in the fact that you have to swim wicked far, but also that you're trying to swim wicked far with hundreds of other people. This video puts that punishment into perspective.

I have a feeling this punishing sport will be calling my name one day. I might be calling on some of you to "help" me train like this guy.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Finally Made it to Friday

At the risk of sounding like an 80s cliche, thank God it's Friday. It's a good thing I was listening to NPR this morning, because they announced that Congress passed a bill that specifically required my personal motivation to increase at least enough to get my sorry a$$ out of bed. I'm not saying they passed some random bill that aligned with my morals and made me feel good, I'm saying the bill was worded as "Old Coot, your mood and motivation shall improve at least enough for you to get out of bed." The Sheriff was at my door with a hard copy mere minutes later, thank God I was already out of bed.

Third Thursday

Prior to my Thursday Night Run, I received an e-mail from one of the guys letting me know he wouldn't be at the run and not to wait for him. When I mentioned it at the meeting spot, someone said "Oh, he must be at Third Thursday with his people." There was no further explanation, so I said "Yeah, must be."

What the hell is Third Thursday? And aren't we his people? I assumed it was a Jewish thing, which is sort of my go to answer when I can't explain why people are doing things I don't understand. Typically, it is a Jewish thing so it's usually a safe bet. They do a lot of things that we non-practicing Christians don't know about. And with a name like Third Thursday, it very well could have some religious base to it.

After the run we were trying to figure out where to eat, and someone suggested we go to Third Thursday, then pick a place downtown to eat. At this point I had to admit my ignorance and ask what the hell Third Thursday was. It turns out that all summer they've been holding this thing downtown on the third Thursday of every month (hence the name) where all of the shops and restaurants and whatnot had musicians playing, tables set up, wares to sell; all kind of shit was going down. It was a real nightlife on North St. (from 5-8 PM). Who knew?

We got there towards the end, but there were still people everywhere, and not the North Street regulars who are covered in boils and oversized t-shirts. We dined on burritos, empanadas and freshly brewed iced tea at a table on the sidewalk outside of Pancho's (154 North St.) and just enjoyed the evening. What a great idea! Too bad I didn't find out about it until what's probably the last one.

YKK Failure

The next time you're wearing clothes that have a zipper, take a second to look at that zipper. Chances are, it's made by YKK. As a matter of fact, short of buying some shoddy piece of disposable apparel I can't think of anything that doesn't have a YKK zipper. Except my favorite khakis.

I won't delve into where and how I noticed, but the other day I saw that my Old Navy khakis have, get this, an Old Navy zipper. Really. My first thought was that I got jipped, and that I wasn't really sure I could trust this zipper the same way I'd trust a YKK branded fastener. My mistrust was not misplaced...

The next day (yes, I wear the same pants more than once in a row) I was walking to the cafeteria looking dapper in those same khakis, a nice shirt and a tie (it was Shirt and Tie Thursday after all), when this guy says to me "Hey, lookin' sharp. Your barn door's open." At the time I remember thinking that after a few and a half decades of wearing pants, there's no reason to get caught with your fly open. But maybe there was a reason...

I deflect all blame from me onto the Old Navy zipper. I claim wardrobe malfunction; I am not at fault.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Double Hump Day

This whole week my mind has been one day ahead of the calendar. Added to that is the fact that this is a long week for us at work, so it feels like I have to work 6 days instead of 5. I don't even like working 1 day, but you can only get paid for not working for so long. I might have to take a few hours off tomorrow, especially if it's nice out.

Autumn Already?

Yesterday I decided that no matter how bad I felt about it, I was going to take a rest day. That doesn't mean sitting on the couch eating tubs of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, it means no running or biking.

Conveniently I had overdone it on the bike four days in a row so my body was screaming for a break. Not literally, but I was starting to get run down. I took full advantage of this to tackle a few chores around the house that needed tackling. Light chores like mowing the lawn and folding laundry, but chores nonetheless.

As I raced to finish mowing before it got too dark, I realized that it wasn't even 8:00 yet. WTF! It's August dammit, shouldn't it be light out later still? My bike rides on Monday and Tuesday ended up a little scary as it got dark before we got back, which means only one thing: I need more equipment so I can still ride. It's not so dark that I can't see, it's just dark enough that cars might not see me. I have some reflective stuff and blinky stuff, but you can't be too visible on a bike.

I'm Heading Across the Country

A friend of mine just pointed out this site to me. I signed up and if I can remember to enter all of my miles (as if the two other logs I use aren't enough) I'll be able to track my progress across this great country of ours. As a matter of fact, I'm putting together a team of people I run/bike with so we can do it together. If it all goes well, I'll keep y'all posted on our progress.

DR, if you're reading this, I'm sending all of my best Top Choice, Grade A, #1, Premium Cut vibes your way. If you aren't reading this, I'm still sending them your way.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Holy Rollers!

The title of this post is not Holy Rollers like churchies on motorcycles, but more like "Holy Smoke", but with "Rollers".

As you may have gathered from some of my recent posts, I'm becoming a cycling junkie and for a number of reasons I decided I needed a way to be able to ride during the winter

± 7 Inches

Last night my new Kreiler Poly-Lyte Rollers were waiting for me at the side door when I got home from my ride. Having just ridden for a few hours, there was no way my ass wanted to get back into the saddle, but it's a new toy dammit. I carried the two boxes upstairs, carefully inspected the directions, gathered all the tools (one wrench) I needed and put them together. As you can see from the picture, it's a metal frame with three metal rollers and a rubber band. It's about that difficult to assemble too; 6 cap nuts with washers.

From the reviews I read, it sounded like some people had trouble assembling it, so I was on the lookout for a snag. It turns out it's just wicked easy to do, those people are just slow.

With my new toy assembled I was ready to give it a try. Because it's so difficult to get used to balancing yourself, they recommend you start in a doorway. I did that, but couldn't get onto the bike so I opted for a different doorway that I have outfitted with a pull-up bar.

Minutes later I was in the saddle and weaving all over the place (one hand on the pull-up bar). When I was looking at all of the roller choices out there on the futureweb, it seemed like the 15" wide ones would be almost overkill. Then, as I tried to balance myself, it dawned on me that I don't have ± 15 inches, I really only have ± 7 inches (the tire is about an inch wide). I can't even hold a line that tight walking or sometimes even sitting, let alone riding my bike on a round surface. Imagine balancing a quarter on its edge; not too tough. Now imagine balancing that same quarter on the edge of a dime; not so easy. The learning curve sho is steep.

What I did learn was that contrary to popular belief, you won't accelerate across the room if you do go off the side. It makes sense that if your wheels are spinning at 20+ MPH and you hit the floor that you'd go flying across the room, but in reality you don't have any forward momentum so you just end up peeling out on the floor and not going anywhere.

I Stooped - Rant Warning

On my way to my ride yesterday I had gone about 1 mile when some genius in a pickup yelled "F*%&ing Bikers!" out the window as he passed. I gave him my standard smile and wave, ensuring he'd get no satisfaction out of it. About a mile and a half later, I was at an intersection and someone honked when the light changed. I didn't think anything of it, since the next light 100 yards ahead was also red. At the next light I stopped and when it was about to change back to green I started clicking into my pedal. Well, that a$$hole honked again. This time I whipped around, stooped to his level, and gave him a clear, concise "F&*$ YOU!"; the kind with a full beat between words. What an a$$hole! Wouldn't you know about 3/4 of the way through the intersection some other kindly gentleman in a pickup hollers "Get out of the road, f*@%ing bikers!" at me. I fired back with the middle finger. The next f^&#er who yelled something at me was getting a tire pump thrown at him.

Keep in mind that on a road bike you can accelerate from a standstill at least as quickly as a car, and I'm not in anyone's way. My taxes pay for the roads just as much as everyone else's, and in fact the no toothed meth-head who yelled at me the second time is undoubtedly more of a detriment to society. "Wipe the spray paint off your upper lip, jerk ass."

A suggestion was made that the next time someone yells something I present him with the canned ham. Just drop trou' (short for trousers) and keep riding.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday is Funday

I started this post earlier this morning but I was having so much fun I didn't want to leave out one detail. Read on, friends and live in envy of my fun, fun Sunday.

Once a Year Whether I Need it or Not

We all know the sayings: I get a haircut once a month whether I need it or not, I brush my teeth once a week whether I need it or not, and so on. Well tonight we get the annual visit of the Perseid meteor shower. According to the fine folks at, this annual meteor shower occurs when the earth passes through the dusty trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. You can read all about it here, if you're truly interested. But if you don't have the time, here's the skinny...

During the hours of 11PM through sunrise tonight (August 12th) you'll have the opportunity to see up to one meteor per minute given you're in a DARK area. If I can remember it, I'll be up in the State Forest armed with some chai tea and a blanket if necessary. Oh, and bug spray. So get out there, crane yo necks to the sky and watch the "Tears of St. Lawrence". The new moon means the show won't be drowned out with a bunch of lunar pollution.

Training Update

Okay, today I took a ride on the Josh route, including a 12 mile warm-up from Stockbridge Bowl. Before you get all crazy, it takes roughly 10 miles to get warmed up on a bike, and the race route starts with a nasty hill. Plus it's just convenient to start at the Bowl.

When I pulled up to the Bowl to unload my bike, a couple rolled in shouting their times to eachother. From their times, I figured they were Joshing it today. I struck up a convo with them and sho nuff they were. We jabbered about the Josh a little, wished each other good luck both with the training and the race itself, and I hit the road.

As I pulled into Great Barrington where the race route starts, I tossed back my one and only energy gel. This would prove to be a real problem later on. You see, finely tuned athletes such as me need to kick back a gel every 45 minutes or so, or our blood sugar crashes, we get cranky and performance overall goes into the shitter. The Josh route is no place for a loss of energy, as each nasty hill is followed by another hill equal to or greater than the last in nastiness. By the end I was literally cursing every hill as if it had offended my mother or taken a bite of my sandwich without asking.

After the ride, I tossed the kayak into the water, stood in the cooling waters of the Bowl then set off on a slow, easy paddle. Nothing to report here. I shot the shit with a few people, mostly about the weather.

As I pulled back up to the boat launch this guy I met yesterday, whose boat had decided it was only going to steer in one direction, was launching his freshly repaired boat complete with who I can only assume were his sister and nieces (he mentioned them yesterday). I gave him some shit about taking his life and those of his kin in his hands with that boat of his, and he fired back with something alluding to the fact that I have been out in the kayak the last two days. What can I say, it was nice out.

Big Up to the Po=Pos

This weekend must be a big weekend for Tanglewood (where the Boston Pops, BSO, etc. play in the summer), as Lenox was a madhouse. The police are out in full force directing traffic in a surprisingly efficient manner. Normally when the local cops are directing traffic it's a cluster f*&#. But as for Lenox, I have to hand it to these guys; they're out in the heat in uniform, directing thousands of clueless people in a well orchestrated dance. But what's even better is that as I approached, rounded, and passed Tanglewood in a low blood sugar rage, they gave me preference allowing me to cruise through each intersection unimpeded. They didn't have to hold up all the cars, but they did and for that I was/am thankful. If any of the Lenox Police are reading this, thanks. I did thank each one as I passed in a genuine tone to show my appreciation, but I thought they deserved a written thanks.

The Chief of Police will also be hearing from me.

Well, I gotta eat some dinner, watch a movie and head out to catch the meteor shower.

P.S. After my ride/paddle I sat on the porch sipping freshly brewed iced green tea and eating a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and lox. Life doesn't get much better than that.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Weekend Update

Tonight I'm going to take a break from my vacation report, because well, it's really dragging on. I might do one quick blast of a review to get it over with, and that'll be that. For now, here's the news from the front lines.

Simple Quote

"E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business."<
Accounting Manager, Electric Boat Company

For those of you who don't get why this is funny, Electric Boat builds submarines for the US and UK Navies. They're also not known for passing info along to the people they work with, but I doubt that's the original quoter's intent. Having worked with some of EB's finest, I can attest to their poor communication skills.

Reprinted without permission from:

No Thanks, Just the Box it Came In

Anyone who has kids or was a kid at one time knows the best part of Christmas (sorry Jews) is the kickass boxes stuff comes in. As it turns out the same holds true for my less-than-appreciative cats.

Yesterday my entire agenda was rained out when the slight drizzle they predicted for the afternoon showed up as an incessant downpour somewhere in the middle of the night. After bagging my bike ride and returning to the warm confines of my bed, I slowly awoke, lazed around the house and somewhere around noon decided I needed to do SOMETHING. I decided there was no better day to head to Trader Joes than a rainy Friday off.

Long story short, while at Trader Joes I treated my cats to a double-wide cardboard cat scratcher doohickey, complete with catnip. So far they ate the catnip and have ground their gums (as cats do on anything with a corner: boxes, eye glasses, noses, toe nails, tables, post-biking calves, etc) on the corners of the box the scratching post came in. They have not, however, ground their nails into the perfect scratching surface within the box. Ingrates.

Josh Billings Rampup

For those of you who don't know, I'm going to be participating in the area's foremost athletic event later this year. The event, The Josh Billings Runaground, is a triathlon consisting of a bike, paddle, run combination (in that order). Last year I was the paddler on a team of three. It was fun, but I thought it would be more fun to tackle the whole thing myself this year, also known as the Ironman division.

Not wanting to let myself down, I've been hitting the bike and kayak about as hard as I can safely do without injuring myself or getting fired from my job. The running on the other hand has been put on the back burner while I nurse a hamstring injury back to health. Last year I would have said that the running was my strong suit, but this year I'm not sure. I hope to be able to give it a strong attempt, but lately I've really been having a hard time. Send some healing vibes this way, please.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to head out to the race route to give my bike another shot at it. Historically I've ridden with people of all abilities and we end up waiting around at various points. The average pace (minus waiting) is usually pretty good, but if I get to rest every 20 minutes it hardly simulates race conditions. Tomorrow I'm going to give it hell, and follow up with a paddle around Stockbridge Bowl for good measure.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Japan Trip - Vol IV

Okay, I apologize if you're tired of hearing about my vacation but this is my way of documenting it for posterity. Plus, when Sofia Coppola decides she wants to make a movie of my life I'll be able to help fill her in on the finer details. But at any rate this is my freaking blog so I'll write whatever I damn well please.

Taisho Village

Once again, my recollection of the day's activities is courtesy of my sister's memory and an e-mail from her describing such recollections. On Tuesday (of vacation week, not this week) we went to Nihon Taishomura (Japan Taisho Village) in Akechi (part of Ena). That will be on the quiz, so write it down.

If I can separate that day from the others, I remember that we went around to a number of historical buildings and museums (musea?). Right off the bat, I spotted this dude getting ready to catch himself some bait. What were these guys fishing for in those little streams?

As usual, I encourage you to look at the pictures full size (click on them) to really appreciate what I was trying to capture. The little pictures don't do them justice.

Media Museum

In all honesty, this museum wasn't all about media, but it had a floor dedicated to old newspapers (which I couldn't read) and one dedicated to old record players (Victrolas?). Like most places, you had to take off your shoes upon entering. Conveniently they had guest slippers, which are akin to bowling shoes in America: loud and ugly as sin. What made them even more attractive to me is that they're sized for Japanese feet, not my 350 Big Block hooves. If you look closely you can see that they only go about halfway back on my feet.

I was particularly enamored with the old record players. I took a lot of pictures of them and the media they played; below is one such cool player. Unlike a CD, you can see the ones and zeros on this bad boy...


Imagine this scenario: You're out in the sun all day, busting your hump at some sort of physical activity. Maybe you're working construction, maybe you're pulling a rickshaw, or maybe in the pursuit of a Hollywood Style body you're just exercising for the sake of vanity. Whatever the reason, you're working up a sweat that is depleting your body of precious fluids and even more precious electrolytes.

"I'm soooo thirsty" you think to yourself. Do you reach out and grab a cool, refreshing glass of water? Hell no, there ain't no electrolytes in that crap. No, nothing gives your body more of what it needs than a tall, chilled bottle of

Believe it or not, that's my hand holding the bottle. I not only held a bottle, I also purchased it and proceeded to consume it. It's no Lemon/Lime Gatorade, but it's not that bad. My sister and I decided that the term Pocari would forever be used in the context of working up a wicked sweat, or a Pocari Sweat.

The real questions are: What is a Pocari? How do you harvest its sweat? Squeegee it's back or ring out its fur? What does a Pocari drink? Aaaaaannnnnd discuss.

Now I'm Hungry

At the end of the day, I may have sucked down enough Pocari back sweat to drown a horse, but I have a hunger that won't quit. I could really go for a

Note that the name brand here is "Tasty Sandwich". Is that like a Tastykake®?

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Japan Trip - Vol III

As it turned out, I never gave y'all the third installment of my vacation. Instead, you got to read about my mole catching cats, who have subsequently been erroneously walking around like their shit doesn't stink.

To Tsumago We Go

Our first day trip took us to two nearby towns. First we hit up Tsumago (SU ma go) where we visited an old district of houses and buildings. It was hard not to take pictures of everything because not only was everything cool and old, but also quite photogenic.

The picture below is an example of how the Japanese folks like to control nature. What was once certainly either a waterfall or just a beautiful rocky stream is now a cascading concrete waterfall and riverbed. Despite the non-natural state of the river, it's still very pleasing to the eye. I encourage you to click on the picture to see it full-size.

You can also see the smoke in the background, which looks like maybe they're manufacturing something but in fact is what I like to call Public Incense. In the rural areas, people have little smolder piles of what I think might be cedar branches or some similar item. The smoke keeps bugs away and provides a very pleasing scent to the air. Everywhere you go you can smell this delicious scent.

Here's a closeup of the waterfall, you can see the textured concrete tiles used as the riverbed. Sweet.

Here is a shot of my sister standing on the main road. The bluish gray mountains in the background could be seen pretty much everywhere we went. Unlike here in the US where we use ratty ass knotty pine, the shops, restaurants and homes in this area are almost all built of cedar, which grows in abundance all over the countryside.

If you look closely you can see red lanterns hanging in some of the entrances to the shops. They were preparing for a festival, which we missed, but what seemed like it would be a neat thing to catch. Eh, you can't catch it all and we got goheimochi instead (to be seen later).

This last picture is one of my favorites from the trip. The traditional architecture, bluish gray mountains and general kickassery makes me just want to pack up and move to that house. Well, almost.

Make Way for Magome

Or next stop on that trip was to Magome (mah go may). The sights and sounds were pretty similar to those of Tsumago, with one major difference - Goheimochi. Below is a shot down one of the streets, once again backdropped (is that a word?) with a beautiful mountainscape.

It would have been easy to meander in and out of the shops, looking at all of the wares the shopkeepers had to sell, wishing you had more time/money/luggage space so you could take it all home, but we were really in Magome for one reason only - Goheimochi (AKA The Moch).

As it was described to me, Goheimochi didn't sound like anything I was willing to knock old ladies down for. You ready? Grilled rice balls on a stick, with some sauce. Abbey kept insisting that we hurry up before the place closed, lest the trip be in vain. Since I didn't know any better, I just followed along and when we got to the Goheimochi spot there were only a few left. We dropped a few hundred yen on a pair of sticks each and one bite later I would have drop kicked a nun if she was in the way of some Moches. Before leaving I had to drop another hundred yen (or was it 150?) on another stick. Them shits is delish, son!

Some poor losers showed up after our bingefest only to find there were only three sticks left. Sucks to be you, player.

Stay tuned for more vacation reports. In the meantime, life is pretty much the same as usual.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Earning Their Keep

Many of you have probably heard me say that my cats are lazy and are non-contributors to the household. While I was away on vacay, my cat sitter informed me that they had caught a mouse. Of course they have about a dozen toy mice all over the house so I figured she was joking. I figured wrong...

Lookey Here

When I got home from my run this morning, I saw the cats proudly standing around the remains of a house intruder. I'm not sure if it's a grey mouse or a mole or what. Here's Vinny showing me his kill...

From Earning His Keep

Here he is again, getting ready to toss the poor bastard in the air. I apologize for the crummy pictures, I had to document the kill quickly so I could get the carcass out of the house. I didn't dare let the cats have the time to shred the thing, leaving entrails on my rug.

Fortunately I had eaten California Rolls for dinner the other night, and I used the chopsticks to pick up the mouse and place him onto the Cali Roll container for proper burial. I buried the little guy in the back yard, with a brief moment of silence in his memory.

That's all.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Japan Trip - Vol II

With the success of yesterday's post reviewing the first day of my trip, I'm back again to regale you in my adventures for the second day of travel. This included the flight from Chicago to Nagoya, Japan and has a few key notes for anyone out there who might be traveling internationally in the near future.

Don't Be Greedy

My second flight (first of the second day) from Chicago to Nagoya was called a non-stop flight. And by non-stop, the good folks at United Airlines mean you'll be stopping in San Francisco to change planes, and generally fend for yourself. I'll get to that part in minute.

I awoke to a cacophony of alarms - if you remember I had set three to wake me so I wouldn't miss my flight. First came the mobile telephone alarm, which takes a few button presses to silence for good. Before I had that figured out, the hotel wake-up call chimed in further confusing my less than rested brain. As I started to come to, my watch fired off its alarm confirming to my brain that there was some reason I had to get up that morning. Ah yes, to catch a flight.

I got up, fixed my two complimentary cups of coffee and hopped in the shower. Cleaned and refreshed I quickly put down the first cup of coffee, and emptied the second cup into a standard paper "to go" cup provided by the hotel - a nice touch, packed up my stuff and checked out.

Back in the main area of the airport, I again went through security hoping for enough time to get some breakfast. I arrived to late at the hotel to catch dinner and left to early for breakfast, and the Clif Bars and Fig Newtons just weren't holding me over. No such luck. At some point I must have acquired a Starbucks coffee, because it's cup comes into play in the following story.

Was that Necessary?

I boarded the flight to San Francisco with my Starbucks coffee, wishing it was fuller. Remembering that United serves the SB on their flights I felt at ease.

Once in the air, the flight attendants came around with the drink cart with their normal offerings. I asked politely for a coffee, and asked if I could have it in my own cup. The flight attendant quickly cut me down stating that she had to have enough for all of the passengers. I responded stating that I didn't like the foam cups because they tend to spill on me, and if she would put the same amount in my cup, I would appreciate it. She ignored my request, and when she brought my Styrofoam cup of coffee over she thrust it into my hand spilling a large amount onto my pants, book, iPod and all down my hand. I quickly held it over the aisle to avoid spilling more onto my lap, looked her in the eye and asked her "Was that really necessary?" She turned away as if nothing had just happened. Wench.

I poured the remaining contents into my own SB cup (complete with lid) and held the worthless Styrofoam cup waiting for it to dry. When the second flight attendant passed (you know how they work two to a cart), she noticed my empty cup and asked if I'd like another coffee. "Yes, that would be great" I said. I added that to my own cup and VOILA, a full cup. Take that you ornery bitch!

The Wench Gets her Revenge

Later in the flight, the flight attendants came down the aisle collecting garbage and so on. As luck would have it, I got the ornery bitch again and as she reached over me to collect my neighbor's trash, she poured the backwash of someone else's Coke onto my lap. Without restraint, I fired off my response: "Are you fucking kidding me?" Taking pleasure in my sewer of a lap, she simply collected our cups and moved on. I don't know if I look like someone she doesn't like or the woman is just a royal bitch, but I did nothing to offend her other than boarding her flight. If the United attendants wore name tags I surely would have complained to the folks in charge upon my arrival in Japan.

United Airlines, if you're reading I was on Flight 831 (7:10 AM) out of Chicago on July 21st. I'll be happy to speak to customer service regarding my complaints.

Non-Stop has a New Meaning

When we touched down in San Francisco, they informed us that we would be making a short stop to change planes. A short stop on a non-stop flight, gotcha. What they didn't tell us that they would not be directing us to our new plane. Our instructions were to inquire at the United desk at our gate for directions to the next flight. As luck would have it, that desk was unmanned.

I looked at the departures board and found my flight was boarding at Gate 100, check. Now, scanning the gate signs it became painfully obvious that the gates were numbered 1-96. Hmm, no gate 100. I wandered around aimlessly for a while until I came across a small sign reading something to the effect of "Transport to International Terminal". As I walked up to the sign, an international looking woman quickly walked up to me and ushered me off to an unmarked door, leading to some behind-the-scenes area. It was there that I boarded an unmarked bus with other international looking people, where we were shuttled off to the International Terminal. The whole thing was pretty shady, and I found it hard to believe that that's how they run their airport. Whatever, I found where I was supposed to be.

A Pain in the Ass

The bulk of my flying was yet to come, and I boarded the last flight with a fear in my heart. You see, I was seated in the middle of 5 seats, in the front row, on a 9+ hour flight. My good fortune won out as I noticed there was a TON of leg room in the front row. I took my seat, whipped out a book and tried to get comfortable. Over the course of the flight the seat became less and less comfortable, to the point where I thought I'd have to have some sort of gluteus maximus surgery. My ass muscles (really, more like my hamstrings) were so sore by the end of the flight it hurt to both stand and sit. Killer.

Whew, that's all I have for you right now. Thanks for listening, it gets MUCH better I assure you.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

Get the Whole Story Here...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

First Vacation Installment

Good morning everyone, today I'm going to give you a brief rundown of Day 1 of my vacation. I'm also going to include a section entitled "Diary of a Mad White Man", an excerpt of some notes I had taken while traveling. I didn't have my laptop on hand, so I took old fashioned hand written notes when I had the chance.

Leg 1 - Albany to Chi-Town

My flight out to Chicago was late in the day on Friday 7/20. JO graciously offered to take me to the airport and pick me up when I got back, saving me the trouble and expense of leaving my car in long term parking (Economy Lot E, yo). It also saved me the trouble of figuring out how the hell to get to the airport when an accident had a major road closed for 3 exits. Since I don't listen to the radio when I drive I wouldn't have found out about this until my car was securely lodged in bumper-to-bumper mayhem.

At the security checkpoint in the Albany airport, I was delighted to find only one woman ahead of me. She was not boarding a flight, but rather seeing a grandchild off, and her lack of luggage, carry-ons, 4 oz. bottles of toiletries, laptops and film-based analog cameras whisked her through with a pleasant efficiency.

I unloaded my quart sized Zip-Loc bags into a bin, slapped my backpack (read: personal item) and carry-on onto the conveyor and eased my feet out of my Crocs. Folks, I'll reiterate this point in almost all of my future write-ups of this trip: Crocs are AWESOME! I don't care how trendy they are or how ridiculous they look, them shits is the BAAMB! They're ideal for airplane travel, as they slide on and off without laces yet stay put until you truly want them off. Plus they're just freaking comfy. Damn!

Oh, let me back up a hair. When I checked in at the United desk, the agent at the desk was pretty helpful and seemed to enjoy my Hawaiian shirt (almost a little too much if you know what I mean). He offered to upgrade my seating to something with more leg room for what I found to be an exorbitant amount of money - I declined.

Upon boarding the plane it was evident that everyone else had also declined the offer, as every single one of those seats was empty. When the pilot turned off the seat belt light and told us to feel free to move about the cabin, I felt free to move about the cabin into a more spacious seat. {Georgia Mass Choir}UP-GRAAAADE{/Georgia Mass Choir}.

Layover #1

My first flight touched down in Chi-town and I set forth to find the Hilton "Conveniently Attached to O'Hare Airport". I couldn't find any signs directing me to the hotel, so I asked a gentleman in an airport uniform. His response was priceless:

"Down the stairs, down the stairs, on your left"

Easy enough, but it left one question unanswered; where were the stairs? He clarified his previous response with:

"Down the stairs, down the stairs, on your left"

I see. Maybe I had to be more specific. "Are the stairs just right around this corner?" I asked. Finally he gave me more explicit directions:

"Down the stairs, down the stairs, on your left"

"Thanks, you've been very helpful" I told him and set forth to find the damn place myself. Navigating a maze of tunnels, doorways and escalators I found myself lost. Eventually I found the hotel, but still couldn't find my way to the check-in desk which was not called a check-in desk. The hotel map neglected to include a "You are here" sticker so I just found which floor most likely contained a check-in-like area and got on the elevator. It was possible that the elevator would return me to my original floor, but I had no way to know which floor I was on in the first place. What ever happened to just using plain old numbers for floors? They had something like 3 floors with names, then the numbers started. Christ, don't they know I'm tired and have to wake up in 4 hours?

The room, however, was pretty freaking nice which I guess I would expect for $180 a night (that's almost $45 per hour for me). I made sure to use up all of the coffee and tea (and fancy travel cups they give you) to get the most out of that room. I also sat in all of the chairs and even turned on the TV to watch a documentary about a heroin addict. Ahh junkies, so documentable.

Before turning in, I set up a wake-up call for 4:00 AM, set the alarm on my mobile telephone, set the alarm on my watch and made a mental note to get up early. I don't like taking chances when traveling.

Diary of a Mad White Man

These were some of my thoughts while sitting in the Albany airport awaiting my first flight...

Sitting in the living room section of the secured area of the concourse, sipping a latte, listening to the air conditioned sounds of Jack Johnson in my Hawaiian shirt I await the first leg of my first international journey.

Occasionally flicking off the noise cancellation feature of my headphones I'm reminded that the Gadget Gods were indeed smiling on me when I found these gems, allowing me to transcend the aural living space of the masses. I am part of the acoustic elite.

When I referred to the "air conditioned sounds of Jack Johnson", the "air conditioning" was performed by my new headphones (Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7). Over the course of my travels I found them to be invaluable. After looking for a link for them, I see that Amazon has since found them to be less valuable than they were three weeks ago, by about 33%. Damn, I paid a lot more for them, but they were worth every cent. I have two words for you: Go Buy Them Shits for Yourself, Son.

The picture below is intended to show the simple comforts I enjoyed at the airport. A nice coffee table, view of the airstrip, latte and killer tunes made my wait all the nice.

So that was the first leg of my trip. I'll treat you to more stories at a later date so you don't gobble the whole trip up in one gluttonous reading frenzy. Peace out bitches.

Over and Out,
Old Coot

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"Something inside of me just said 'Hey, wait a minute, I want to beat him.' and I just took off." -Pre